A Star was Born


The Magruder PianoStanding alone….in the center of a white room….surrounded by contemporary works of Art…was a lone baby-grand piano. The music is forever silent but its mere presence is definitely fortissimo. It is the former “Magruder” Piano transformed by artist, Ray McCray, assisted by Greg Dahl and others into a take-your-breath-away damnedest Art Piece I have ever seen!
Yesterday (10-10-09) was the Grand Opening of a new show at the William Grant Still Art Center-Gallery in Los Angeles. It featured the unveiling of the little 1930’s piano from a Jazz bar near Central Avenue. In 1965, my late husband John (Magruder) brought this sick and very badly damaged piano to his house and lovingly restored it. In its lifetime in our living room, it was played by myself, and many well-known keyboardists including Horace Silver…. Its keys were even tickled by the small fingers of my Grand-Daughters with great pleasure and glee.
After John passed away in 2003, I decided to re-form the “Magruder Monktet”. I needed a better playing piano. At the very last moment, Greg Dahl told me that he and Ray McCray needed a piano for an art project. So, I donated my piano in August, 2003…to Art.
Until yesterday’s premiere, I had only seen pictures of the piano’s metamorphosis into the amazing piece of art that it has become. All of the keys have been signed by famous Jazz Artists, many of whom actually played that piano! The first key was dedicated to John, which I signed…followed by the nine “Monktet” members and the others…the one blank key (hopefully) awaiting the signature of…Stevie Wonder.
Every other inch is covered by colorful images of Jazz History, its symbols and players…all hand painted. The strings were replaced by a dimensional collage of famous Jazz Heroes, including Coltrane, Parker, Pepper, Miles, Diz, Monk…and John.
If you stand back and look at this familiar shape…its hard to believe that it once was a working piano. I guess I could best describe it as a Dali-esque Rainbow from Oz! And to think that Ray McCray had this vision in his head all along…

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